05/09/2003 12:00AM

Secondary School's back sooner than expected


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Soon after Secondary School won a $50,000 optional race April 27, trainer David Forster said that he was going to give his undefeated 4-year-old filly a few weeks off before running her again. After all, it was her first start since May 4, 2002, and she had to run her eyeballs out to catch a game Haunting You at the wire. So it was surprising to see Secondary School's name show up when entries were drawn for the Strawberry Morn stakes this Sunday.

"The stakes schedule has a lot to do with running her back this soon," said Forster. "There's no more sprints and I would like to have one more sprint in her before she stretches out in the Sun, June 7. She also came out of her race in excellent shape."

Secondary School, owned and bred by Janis Whitham, looked like she was going to be one of the leaders of the 3-year-old filly division at Hastings last year. However, after beating Elana d'Amour in an allowance she wrenched her ankle and didn't make it back to the races until her race two weeks ago. She has raced three times, but each time she's made an explosive move to win going away and certainly proved she belongs with stakes fillies when she easily handled 2002 local horse of the year Elana d'Amour in just her second start.

Forster sent Secondary School out for a very good half-mile blowout in 47.60 seconds Friday morning and was pleased with the work. Also on the work tab was her stablemate Castle Mountain, who also figures to have a big shot in the Strawberry Morn. She went a half-mile in 48.40 seconds and according to the Hastings clocking crew came down the lane in 12 seconds.

Castle Mountain is a 5-year-old mare by Mountain Cat and has an excellent record at the Strawberry Morn distance of 6 1/2 furlongs, winning four times from six tries. She ran a huge race going nine furlongs in the Grade 3 Ballerina to close out her 2002 season, in which she only started five times.

"She had problems with her feet," said Forster. "But right now she's training like a tiger. Do I like one over the other? I don't know.

"They're both nice fillies. We'll run them and find out."

Of course, the horse they have to beat is Elana d'Amour. A homebred daughter of Vying Victor, she ran eight times last year, winning five stakes and finishing second twice. However, she ended her season on a sour note with an 11th-place finish in the Grade 3 Ballerina, where she bore out badly.

"Another horse came over on her and cut her up pretty good," said her trainer, Joe Apperloo. "She's doing fine right now though, and knock on wood, she'll be just as good as last year."

There are no equipment changes for Elana d'Amour but there will be a rider change. Although Pedro Alvarado rode her in her last seven starts, Apperloo has decided to give the mount to Sam Krasner. He declined to discuss any reasons behind the change.

Apperloo is also high on a 2-year-old un-named full sister to Elana d'Amour. "She's bigger, put together better, and has the same nasty attitude," he said.

One horse missing from the Strawberry Morn is Ballerina winner Grace for You. According to her trainer, Terry Marshall, she pulled a muscle a few weeks ago and has just resumed training. He's hoping to have her back to the races by mid-summer. Marshall also sent Ballerina runner-up Full Scream Ahead to Stampede Park to run in the $40,000 Ken Pearson Memorial May 19.

"She's better-suited to run a mile, and she really likes the competition in Alberta," he said.